Between our jobs, family, friends, home responsibilities, leisure time, and on-demand entertainment, it’s never been easier to have a few days slip by in the blink of an eye. Our schedules are so packed it can be hard to think about what a weekend with no plans would be like. Often times, this isn’t the case for seniors in assisted living communities. There is a lot of time that residents will have scheduled or use for themselves, but it’s up to the Activity Director to fill those down times with something to do. These activities are sometimes expected to be extensive field trips, expensive guests, or to have something scheduled for most days of the week. While having the time or resources to do everything residents want to see from their Activity Directors (ADs) would be ideal, the fact is, more times than not, this is not the case. In this week’s blog, we’ll be looking at how ADs can save time and provide more engaging, person-centered activates for their residents.
The Needs of the Many
While trying to provide activities and programs for as many people as possible is a noble pursuit, it might not be ideal for all of them, especially if they are vision or hearing impaired. There are activities that apply to lots of people, but just because you can plan these activities, doesn’t mean you should (looking at you 3pm bingo). Planning a full schedule that isn’t appealing to some of your residents could potentially worsen feelings of social isolation or depression. Instead, try to find out how your residents spend their free time and craft relevant activates based on preferences.
One of our past blog posts was on how integrating technology into senior living communities could benefit both staff and residents. Specifically, the TSOLife program can act as a time-saving measure for Activity Directors. All of your residents’ stories, preferences, and resident profiles are housed on the TSOLife platform and with searchable content, planning personal activities around the seniors in your community flows just a little bit smoother. Additionally, our service works with technology that your staff and seniors already know how to use like smartphones and tablets.
Provide the resources
Sometimes, the job of an AD isn’t to plan events or outings, but rather to provide seniors with the resources to plan their own activities. It’s important to help your residents be as autonomous as possible, letting them plan and carry out activities on their own. Working with local libraries to bring in new books every month is a great way to stir up some excitement as well as offering up opportunities for residents to take activity planning into their own hands. Aside from books, also think about a common area with computers, puzzles, or movies as resources to stimulate independent action.
Involve the Community
Getting the community involved is a two-pronged plan that could help you schedule different kinds of activities. Having your residents volunteer their time is both refreshing and meaningful. Helping with light activities like gardening and knitting for other organizations could help seniors feel more connected to a sense of purpose. The second facet of volunteerism is pulling in people to volunteer time in your community. They can help out in a number of ways even if it's just chatting and engaging with your residents. Drawing people into your community may not be the easiest thing, but positioning their volunteered time as a growing and nurturing experience can help. Ask volunteers about their interests to see if there’s potential to build any activities from them. Engaging both seniors and volunteers is a great way to keep people invested in your community.
Activity Directors often have too much to plan and manage with a budget that doesn’t reflect their overall ambition. By personalizing activities through tech, providing opportunities for autonomy, and getting the community involved, ADs might be able to streamline processes a bit more, saving time and money for your community.